Malta Employers Association (MEA) has decried Malta’s greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), characterising it an “entirely self-inflicted crisis”.
Responding as the FATF reportedly voted to place the country on its ‘grey list’, marking countries around the world deemed to be untrustworthy in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the MEA described the development as a “devastating blow for the Maltese economy which will stretch its resilience to its limit”.
Addressing what brought the country to this “unprecedented and humiliating” low, the MEA stated that the crisis is “the result of lax and corrupt practices by a minority of dishonest politicians and businesses, compounder with ineffective governance systems”.
The organisation criticises the country’s justice system as “strong with the weak”, and for allowing glaring transgressions and crimes, making international news, to “remain unsolved or languish in the labyrinth of our judicial system”.
The “best efforts” of the current Minister for Finance, Clyde Caruana, to “clean up” the situation left by his predecessor, failed to impress the FATF, according to the MEA.
Looking to the future, says the Association, “we need to realise that governance is not just about ticking boxes, but about values”.
“We may have all the governance systems in place, but we will only be allowed to operate without the stifling straightjacket that we are now being forced to wear if we rebuild the trust of the international community to once again judge Malta to be a reliable and trustworthy business partner”.
Despite its disappointment and anger at the actions and developments that brought Malta to this stage, the MEA calls for political cohesion and unity, stating: “It will be pointless to waste time in political bickering and point fingers in vein attempts to deny or downplay the severity of the grey listing”.
It also stated that “rather than blaming the referee, we need to rethink our strategies and hold people to account where necessary, irrespective of who they are”.
This statement is especially stark in sentiment compared to an argument made prior to the vote by Malta’s Foreign Minister, Evarist Bartolo, who levelled accusations against “big countries”, saying they “have ways of getting away with murder”.
In the more immediate future, the MEA expects that “the repercussions of the greylisting will be carried by honest businesses and their employees”, even as “the cost of added compliance procedures is already stifling many businesses”, it stated.
“Our focus should be on the need for national unity with the involvement of all. We have had to learn our lesson the hard way as a country, that governance is not to be taken lightly.”
This year, Malta is showcasing its capabilities with the participation of 11 food and beverage companies
Companies had to pay their debts to staff, together with hefty financial penalties
San Ġwann, Saint Paul's Bay and Ħamrun registered the highest number of approved new dwellings during the period